In Twenty Years at Hull House, Jane Addams gives a story about abuses and poverty during the Industrial Revolution in the United State of America. Jane Addams book includes photographs illustrations as she tries to convey and show major social challenges majority went through during this period. While living in United State, she had a burning desire to help the poor, however, her ambition to assist the poor seemed to remain still due to her illness which made her not to be able to complete her medical training.
Both Ellen Gates Starr and Jane Addams founded Hull-house with similar main purpose and vision of providing educational and social freedom for all middle-class individuals living in the Chicago community. They were the immigrants from various states to Chicago. Hull house was mainly to provide a place for higher social and civic life. They were also concerned in instituting and maintaining philanthropic and educational adventures. In addition, Hull House was to explore and better states of Chicago's industrial districts (Addams, 2015).
Reasons why Jane Addams believed that the economic and political environment was partly responsible for the terrible poverty among immigrants as well as the immigrants' behavior
Jane adversely takes about the social conditions of immigrants especially those from Italy and Germany. She was really concerned about bettering the life of immigrants who were mostly poor. Poverty was more on the old people and the youths. Due to the economic conditions political influence during the industrial revolution, immigrants were very poor and could not afford to live a stable life (Addams, 2015). The political environment, on the other hand, was one other thing that Jane Addams to be strongly responsible for poverty among the immigrants. However, Addams also blamed immigrants' behaviors, claiming that their behaviors were some of the contributions of their poverty (Addams, 2015).
According to Addams (2015), Hull House was meant to ease the transformation and to help assimilation of immigrants to the labor market by training them the values of American's middles class. In addition, it also facilitated education to immigrants by availing art and literature classes. This was to ensure that they were equipped with the knowledge and skills required in the job market. However, in chapter five we find that immigrants were very primitive and could not accept and adapt to the new transitions that had occurred in current complex types of machinery in the industrial sector (Addams, 2015). They clung to their old ways of living, and their employers having no hope for a better tomorrow. They accepted the pay they were offered without question, they did not consider to know their value. In as much as political environment and economic conditions were responsible for the immigrants' poverty, I concur with Jane in the point that their behaviors, holding traditional believes, stealing, laziness and not willing to work as well contributed greatly to their poverty (Addams, 2015).
In the eleventh chapter "immigrants and their children," immigrants are blamed so much for being responsible for their poverty. She blamed some women of being very primitive such that they could not cope up with the current industrial advancement, they clung on their traditions and they also lacked interest in learning new ways of life in Chicago (Addams, 2015). For instance, she talks about the Italians daughter who was ashamed of her mother work and her primitive state. Jane confirms this by saying "I intimated it was not fair to judge her by these things alone, and that while she must depend on her daughter to learn new ways, she also had a right to expect her daughter to know some of the lost ways: that which could not convey to the child, but upon which my mind constantly dwelt (Addams, 2015).
Discuss an example where Addams seems to be blaming the economic or political environment. Compare the two examples-which does she seems to feel is really the root cause of poverty?
Addams complained about the irresponsibility of city officials that lead to deterioration of the immigrants' life. The government was corrupt and the working conditions around industrialized Chicago were very filthy, unhealthy, horribly crowded, unsanitary, and stinking. Addams argued that due to political difference and discrimination, immigrants were never remembered (2015). Addams explained that most political forces were very adamant until she began diverse movements raising public awareness of some of the importance of good and healthy conditions, education and equality (2015). She made adverse moves making difference and bringing labor reforms, as she fought for industrial safety. Additionally, fought also for human work states, she also against children labor and ensured that she pushed for the formation of labor unions.
Most employees were being exploited and were also subjected to subordination were all political means and strategies used by the most powerful people to keep immigrants poor (Addams, 2015). Immigrants were known as the most forgotten division in society. Industrial revolution set in America immediately after the civil war. This revolution propelled America to the elite position. A huge number of immigrants arrived in America looking for wealth and opportunities (Addams, 2015). Many ended up poor and leaving a very low life due to lack of enough resources that could sustain such a big number. Comparing the two possible causes, the political environment and immigrants' behaviors, the root cause of their poverty, however, was particularly their behaviors within Chicago. This is because they accepted their inferiority and could not fight for their rights instead they accepted their living conditions as some engaged in crime. They were also lazy and were not willing to work and if they had some money then they could wastefully use such little cash they had (Addams, 2015).
Addams, J. (2015). Forty years at Hull-House. London: Scholar's Choice.
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